UTH XI - Day 2 @ Kyttaro Club, Athens (GRE)

HEATHENS FROM THE NORTH / HEIR APPARENT / RUTHLESS / BELOW / ETRUSGRAVE / SOLITARY SABRED / ENDOMAIN

Date: 27th March, 2016
Venue: Kyttaro Club
Ticket: €58 ($66) festival / €35 ($40) single day
Promoter: Up The Hammers
Photos: Erika Wallberg


The second day the 2016 edition of ‘Up The Hammers’ followed the trend from last year. Some delays with the doors but also, special for this year, a bit chaotic entrance since there was a signing session with the HEAVY LOAD guys. This kind of blocked the entrance for all and even if signing wasn't on your agenda you was just to wait until the queue was resolved.

But that wasn't really a big deal as no show started until most people were inside. Greece’s ENDOMAIN were first out this second day. And what never ceases to surprise me with Greece is that it feels you can line up a random dozen of men and half of them will be excellent singers. Up north that's almost always the weakest spot in a band but not down here. Stratis Steele was no exception, damn he was good. From a musical perspective ENDOMAIN impressed me too. Dark Heavy / Power Metal always works but there was more to it; the arrangement and structure of the songs were very creative. This always brings depth and dynamics to the music and makes it really interesting. So, it was straight to the merchandise booth after their gig to pick up their, to this day sole release “Step In The Machine”.

Even if ENDOMAIN sounded fantastic their show left a little more to wish for. Especially Stratis felt a little stiff and insecure to start with, mainly looking down at the stage floor rather than interacting with the crowd. There was a really decent following for ENDOMAIN, with people showing up early this second day even though it was a really freaky party the night before. It got better for each song though and towards the end of the set it was as it should. So, with a few more gigs in the baggage it will be fantastic but still now it was really good.

ENDOMAIN setlist:

01. “Defy The Master”
02. “Unsettled”
03. “Valley Of Disorder”
04. “Step In The Machine”
05. “Into The Faint Sea”
06. “Dreamer In Time”
07. “Some Pray For The Wicked”
08. “Rebecca’s Trip”

ENDOMAIN

Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Endomain @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


I stumbled over SOLITARY SABRED’s Redemption Through Force” a while ago and I can't say I was immediately impressed. But there was something that appealed to me and it kept spinning and I must say it grew on me. My major concern was the performance and production of the album rather than the songs. So it was a big surprise when SOLITARY SABRED kicked of their set after the “Synaxxis Of Honor” intro. “Disciples Of The Sword” came as a smack in the face. The sound was awesome and the band’s performance was so much better than on the record. Now it was really tight and the intensity this music need was there. We're talking about Powerful Heavy Metal somewhere between MANOWAR and RUNNING WILD. To pull this off you need power and that was showed with “Slayer's Oath”. The song that got stuck the most from my listening sessions was “Sarah Lancaster (The Witch's Breed)”; I love the drama in the arrangements and with the power and conviction SOLITARY SABRED performed it all was fantastic.

Again the place was packed from first note and the support was there straight through the set. When it was time for the last song out the organizer signaled that SOLITARY SABRED's time was up. I don't know if it was planned or if the medley in the end came together just to squeeze in all songs. But it worked really well. Especially the revisit to the chorus line in “Burn Magic, Black Magic” as the absolute last part of the set. Musically ENDOMAIN perhaps appealed to me more but from a show perspective SOLITARY SABRED really ran over their predecessors on the stage.

SOLITARY SABRED setlist:

01. “Synaxxis Of Honor” (intro)
02. “Disciples Of The Sword”
03. “Slayer's Oath”
04. “Redeemer”
05. “Sarah Lancaster (The Witch's Breed)”
06. “Realm Of Darkness
07. “Psionic Transmogrification”
08. “Burn Magic, Black Magic” / “Solitary Sabred” / “Burn Magic, Black Magic”

SOLITARY SABRED

Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Solitary Sabred @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


There is something special with the Italian Epic Heavy Metal. ETRUSGRAVE feels like DARK QUARTERER's younger cousin or something. There are similarities in the music which perhaps isn't so strange since guitarist Fulberto Serena was part of DARK QUARTERER in the early days. And since the bands are rather similar in style and with the lineup connection it's hard to not compare the two. I really like “Masters Of Fate” and of the two ETRUSGRAVE releases it's definitely that one I've listened to the most and I must say that set opener “The Only Future” sounded absolutely fantastic. So did of course “Subulones” also. And luckily, the venue place had started to fill up again. I guess people needed some air after making a mess during the SOLITARY SABRED show. As a treatment, ETRUSGRAVE served a new song as well; “Mammoth's Trumpet” tells of a very promising future for this band. ETRUSGRAVE really have what I find so fascinating with music, for sure, SOLITARY SABRED had a more visual show but the intensity and nerve still made this one equal. It's hard to put words on it, but on occasion it really doesn't matter how much you move and run around on stage. When the musical performance does the talking it still appears more intense and intimate as compared to all musicians interacting with the crowd. This, as it is for DARK QUARTERER, it was for ETRUSGRAVE too.

I was a bit surprised when Tiziano “Hammerhead” Sbaragli announced “Colossus of Argil”. I was expecting “Lady Scolopendra” which was featured on the ETRUSGRAVE debut. But soon I realized they actually released “Colossus Of Argil” on the second album. And since this is one of my all-time favorites I was really happy that it was featured in the set. But this also made it clear, even if Tiziano sure sounded fantastic and did an excellent job both in the ETRUSGRAVE originals as well as this one, he's not really up to Gianni Nepi's class. On the other hand hardly no one gets to that level. “Angel Of Darkness” closed the ETRUSGRAVE set and again I was kind of surprised that it was over already. It felt rather short and a little too few songs. Since the average length of the songs is 8-minute or something the set wasn't short at all, it just felt like that and I guess that's a good grade.

ETRUSGRAVE setlist:

01. “The Only Future”
02. “Subulones”
03. “Mammoth's Trumpet”
04. “Colossus of Argil” (DARK QUARTERER cover)
05. “Angel Of Darkness”

ETRUSGRAVE

Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


From Epic Heavy Metal to Epic Doom. It's a little bit funny that I should have to go to Greece to see a Swedish band perform, isn't it? Ok, BELOW have played in Sweden but I haven't managed to be at the same place with them when that happened. And it seemed that BELOW was one of the bands many were looking forward to listening to. And with that, I was rather surprised the place was virtually empty when BELOW started playing. A transient issue as the place started to fill up and did so very good during the first song. “Trapped Under Ground” kicked off the set and the gnawing groove set the place in waves. I got “Across The Dark River” when it was released and it sounded good for sure but it never really got stuck on me. For the rest of the visitors it seemed to have though as the response just grew and grew the longer the set went. Even the not-yet released “1000 Broken Bones” got some really good response and I started to wonder why BELOW didn't really hit me when I got their record. I really enjoyed the show, both as a show and the music so I guess I need to revisit the album. Anyway, the title track from the album “Across The Dark River” and the set closer “The Whitechapel Murderer” sounded fantastic. The latter was my favorite of the record also so I was happy they played that one.

Another thing rather amusing with BELOW was that they really looked like giants on stage, guitarists Berg and Paud was at least a head taller than most other musicians performing during these days. A good show it was no matter what and I enjoyed it more than I'd expected.

BELOW setlist:

01. “Trapped Under Ground”
02. “Mare Of The Night”
03. “Portal”
04. “1000 Broken Bones”
05. “Across The Dark River”
06. “The Whitechapel Murderer”

BELOW

Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Below @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Entursgrave @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


And of course, on occasion it's also possible to combine a frenzy show with an intense and extremely tight musical performance. RUTHLESS really blew me away on last year's ‘Headbangers Open Air’ festival but I'll be damned if this wasn't yet another step up from that. For every of these shows, which almost always from an old school US Heavy/Power Metal band I can't stop wondering where the hell they get their energy from and why it's so typical for bands as RUTHLESS.

And what a complete run-over the opening was, and also a summary what RUTHLESS have been up to until now, the title track from “Discipline Of Steel” followed by “Gates Of Hell” from the “Metal Without Mercy” EP and rounded up with new “Defender”. Ok, “They Rise” has been out for little over a year and that showed. The crowd knew the songs from it as well as the old ones. “Laceration” is one of my favorites from that album so I was happy to hear that one.

The lights at the Kyttaro Club were tough for photos, either too much or not enough which made it all a bit challenging. RUTHLESS on the other hand added yet another dimension to that challenge as they moved around both a lot and very fast. The trio backing up the vocalist Sammy DeJohn guitarists Ken McGee and Dave Watson together with bass player Marc McGee (not forgetting drummer Jason VanSlyke but he's not really contributing to the visual frenzy at the frontline) seemed to have so much fun being on stage which really influenced the crowd a lot too. Towards the end of RUTHLESS set the place boiling hot with “Mass Killer” and really “Metal Without Mercy” from the debut EP didn't slow things down.

The show was for sure damn good and I started to worry that HEIR APPARENT would appear as too mellow after this. But we are in Greece remember, and then anything can happen...

RUTHLESS setlist:

01. “Discipline Of Steel”
02. “Gates Of Hell”
03. “Defender”
04. “Thirteen Skulls”
05. “Hangman”
06. “Cryptic Ruins”
07. “Laceration”
08. “Sign Of The Cross”
09. “Frustration”
10. “Mass Killer”
11. “Metal Without Mercy”

RUTHLESS

Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Ruthless @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


I can't claim to be a long time fan of HEIR APPARENT. in fact it took until recent years before it all fell into place. Then of course I can't for my life understand why I didn't get it when I first heard them. I mean, I love many other bands in the same genre. Oh anyway, betterlate than never, right?

And as many bands, HEIR APPARENT hasn't been that active in the last two decades so the buzz around them here in my dark and cold neighborhood has been nonexistent. Could they really pull off a headlining spot at this edition of ‘Up The Hammers’? Especially after the massive beating from RUTHLESS? It's Greece we're talking about so of course it works. But the difference from the previous day when LETHAL had the same position was that people waited outside longer. It looked a bit sparse all the way until it was show-time. Then of course it was the same standard on crowd response as always.

As the set was rather extensive with almost the entire “Graceful Inheritance” and a massive piece of “One Small Voice” was featured in the set. And to get “Crossing The Border” followed by “Hands Of Destiny” marked one of the highlights of the show for me. Vocalist Will Shaw did a fantastic job here. No, he's not the original vocalist but does it really matter? I prefer a functioning band that has a good time on stage than anything else. HEIR APPARENT didn't mess around as much as RUTHLESS of course but they had that nerve and the pure perfection in the music made it just as appealing as the previous bands. “Masters Of Invasion” was another highlight to hear live as well as “Decorated” and “The Fifth Season”, the latter two from “One Small Voice”.

Towards the end of the main set I decided to move to the back for a while. And if the response was good in the front, seeing it all from the back gave yet another level to it. The place was practically boiling in a way that wasn't noticeable in the front. And what an ending with “Keeper Of The Reign” followed by “Another Candle” signed off the main set and left the crowd screaming for more.

It sure was an impressive performance and I can't wait to see HEIR APPARENT at the same year's edition of ‘Keep It True’.

HEIR APPARENT setlist:

01. “Entrance”
02. “Dragon's Lair”
03. “The Servant”
04. “Crossing The Border”
05. “Hands Of Destiny”
06. “Tear Down The Walls”
07. “Running From The Thunder”
08. “A.N.D.... Dogro Lived On”
09. “We The People”
10. “The Cloak”
11. “Masters Of Invasion”
12. “Rip”
13. “One Small Voice”
14. “Decorated”
15. “The Fifth Season”
16. “Keeper Of The Reign”
17. “Another Candle”
18.“Cacophony Of Anger”

HEIR APPARENT

Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heir Apparent @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)


In one way, the legend HEAVY LOAD has become for today's metalheads is kind of ruined with a performance like this. It can never be as it was. On the other hand, it's damn cool to get to experience these songs live and see Styrbjörn Wahlquist and Eddy Malm performing on stage. Well, Eddy at least, Styrbjörn was only hanging around the place talking to people. I know HEAVY LOAD played in my home town in the first half of the 80's but that was nothing that I saw. And I guess that was the last chance.

HEATHENS OF THE NORTH, as the HEAVY LOAD track, consisted of celebrities of the Greek Metal scene; Nick Papakostas (CONVIXION) and ‘Up The Hammers’ boss Manolis Karazeris to mention a few. And as always with these guys musically it really sounded amazing. On occasion even better than HEAVY LOAD ever did. And as with the BATHORY tribute last year, that too can be an issue as some of the raw charm and genuineness gets lost.

But I shouldn't be complaining about something like that. It sure was a fun ending of the festival and I don't think I've ever felt so squeezed up against the wall standing as far back as possible in the Kyttaro Club. It was packed for the other bands too but this was actually ridiculous. It's not really fun to watch a show when it's impossible to move. But who can deny songs as “Stronger Than Evil” or “Might for Right” their classic status. They still hold today. And what a superb ending to a two-day party that was with “Saturday Night”, very suitable.

Even if the HEAVY LOAD event wasn't what I was looking forward to the most at this edition of ‘Up The Hammers’ it was as all other bands, a great performance and thinking back I'm still surprised on the level all bands held this year. There were a few surprises, Saturday's openers ENDOMAIN impressed as did SEVEN SISTERS. Also VARDIS was a really pleasant surprise, they're not really my style of music but damn they rocked. Although I was expecting that SACRAL RAGE and VIRGIN STEELE would be good I was still a little bit disappointed with all the effects on the vocals which kind of killed it a bit. I expected nothing from either TEMPEST nor ETRUSGRAVE but both ended up as favorite shows of the festivals. I also enjoyed RUTHLESS and HEIR APPARENT very much but in the end it was LETHAL that made the strongest impression on me. And since the date for the next festival has been pushed ahead a bit, to May, makes the waiting for the ‘UTH XII’ edition over a year long.

HEATHENS OF THE NORTH setlist:

01. “Full Speed At High Level”
02. “Singing Swords”
03. “The Guitar Is My Sword”
04. “Dark Nights”
05. “I'm Alive”
06. “Free”
07. “Heavy Metal Angels (In Metal And Leather)”
08. “Take Me Away”
09. “Stronger Than Evil”
10. “Heathens From The North”
11. “Might For Right”
12. “Little Lies”
13. “Saturday Night”

HEATHENS FROM THE NORTH

Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)
Heathens From The North @ Kyttaro Club (photo by Erika Wallberg)

(click to enlarge)